“She Doesn’t Know How Pretty She Is”


I remember the Sunday morning that our friend made this statement. She was talking to Charlotte about her daughter-in-law. She beamed with admiration as she described a wonderful quality of her son’s wife. “She doesn’t know how pretty she is.”

This conversation took place one Sunday morning about a year ago when we were traveling and visiting another church. Charlotte and I were visiting with a young couple that morning who we have now been acquainted with for several years. We really like them both. They are good people and really have their heads on straight. He is a fun guy who laughs a lot but who also has a deep commitment to the Lord. She is a warm, attractive, young lady who, in conversation, has a way of really focusing on the other person. This young lady is not self-focused at all.

On this Sunday morning, Charlotte noticed that she looked especially nice in a particular dress. Charlotte complimented her on her appearance. Later, Charlotte expressed the same thought to her mother-in-law who was also a member of that church. Her mother-in-law smiled and acknowledged that her daughter-in-law did look nice. She then said, “The best thing is that she doesn’t know how pretty she is.”

Have you ever known someone who didn’t seem to realize just how effective, how impressive, or how attractive he/she really was to many others? Then, can you recall being in the presence of someone who seems quite impressed with himself or herself?

1. I know a man who did very well academically while in school. He earned the highest academic degree in his field. Unfortunately, he has a way of communicating to others that he sees himself as smarter than most people. Quite often this comes out in sarcastic humor. Whether or not he intends to communicate a feeling of superiority is not the point here. The point I am trying to make is that many others perceive him this way.

2. I once knew a woman who seemed to pride herself on her social sophistication. She saw herself as being “in the know” about so many things. She took pride in being aware of all the designer labels in women’s and men’s clothing. She took pride in what she knew about pop culture. When someone couldn’t identify a certain band or movie star, she had a way of making that person feel foolish. No graciousness here. Rather, she seemed to see these moments as opportunities to humiliate and embarrass.

3. I have known many, many ministers. Some ministers seem to forever be measuring themselves against other ministers. At times they seem to pride themselves on how well connected they are to other ministers who are highly visible, well known, etc. Meanwhile, they have a way of ignoring other ministers who would love to have a cup of coffee or in some way connect with them.

The ministers who impress me the most are those who seem to have little self-consciousness. These people don’t seem to be trying to impress or communicate that they are a cut above other ministers. In fact, I admire some of these people who don’t seem to be aware of just how impressive they really are.

Bottom Line: People who are not self-conscious do not have to constantly call attention to themselves. When we don’t have to be noticed, we are free to live for others.

What if you did not have to talk about your church as if it were the only game in town? You might be free to notice the good that other churches are doing.

What if you did not have to prove that you know more than others? You might be free to affirm another’s knowledge and insight.

What if you did not have to be noticed (in terms of your personal attractiveness)? You might be free to affirm another’s appearance.

What if you did not have to be all-knowing? You might be free to learn from others.

Perhaps the most impressive people are those who have no idea just how impressive they really are.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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13 thoughts on ““She Doesn’t Know How Pretty She Is”

  1. Excellent post , Jim. Not only is there great freedom in being content in who you are, but also increased joy. C.S. Lewis has a wonderful description of humility that speaks of being able to find delight and joy in the successes of others on the same level as if those successes were your own. He gives the example of an architect who upon the completion of some marvelous building rejoices with its builder as much as he would rejoice if he himself had built it. I've always liked that understanding of humility.

    • Taylor!,

      So good to hear from you. Thank you for sharing the thoughts of Lewis. I was not familiar with this particular discussion. I hope you are doing well. You are a great guy.

  2. A friend referred me to this blog, and I appreciated this post. As a young minister who has benefitted from friendships with guys who were very successful and could easily have been too busy to spend time with me, I can appreciate the need for that kind of humility.

    • Andrew,
      Thanks for coming to this blog and for leaving your comment. What a blessing to you to have good friendships with people who encouraged you. Thanks.

  3. Very good. This question and the point made were particularly convicting for me as a minister: "What if you did not have to prove that you know more than others? You might be free to affirm another's knowledge and insight."

    It is nice to be asked what we think. When others don't ask us, our selfish urge to be recognized and validated can lead us to speak out when we should continue in silence. Too often the attention we generate toward ourselves is not positive (Prov. 18:2). The solution? Being less self-conscious and more other-conscious. Good reminder, thanks. wb

    • Warren,
      Thanks for this observation. I think that our insecurities and desire to be noticed often gets many of us in trouble. Thanks for leaving this comment today.

  4. As everyone agrees, and excellent post, and reminder to us all. Your vacation was well worth the wait.

    My comment: I really see this whole attitude as very consistent with the instructions regarding being born again in Christ, and also Paul's words in Ephesians regarding the husband/wife relationship. In both cases, the idea is that your life is laid down in favor of another. Here though, we extend this to all people with whom we interact. Our importance, our knowledge, our superiority, is no longer relevant. The emphasis is on other. Very cool. Sometimes very hard too!